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March 29, 2016 Leave a comment
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TODAY’S TOP RETAIL STORIES

March 29, 2016 Leave a comment

 

FierceRetail March 29, 2016
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Today’s Top Stories

1. Harris Teeter makes shopping more express

2. Sears’ Eddie Lampert buys debt

3. EBay optimizes for 5 stages of shopping

4. Instacart expansion keeps rolling along

5. Hy-Vee opens training and fulfillment center

This week’s sponsor is Shoptalk.

Also Noted

New drones roll through Walmart country

Stories from around the Web

News from the Marketing & Retail Industry

Webinars

Events

Marketplace

Today’s Top News

1. Harris Teeter makes shopping more express

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Harris Teeter is expanding online ordering options with the addition of home delivery through UberRush.

The Matthews, North Carolina–based grocery is piloting the program at a single Harris Teeter store in Washington, D.C.

The grocer currently operates an online platform that allows shopping via the Web or mobile device for in-store pickup. Now shoppers within a five-mile radius of the test store can have purchases delivered same day.

Shoppers log on to the Harris Teeter mobile app, order, checkout and select delivery or pick-up options. For those choosing delivery, the store dispatches an UberRush driver and the shopper receives real-time updates, much like ordering a car through the Uber app.

The service is only available to mobile users; computer orders are restricted to in-store pickup.

“Harris Teeter is excited to enhance the online ordering process by offering home delivery,” said Danna Robinson, communication manager for Harris Teeter. “UberRush delivery will help us reach our customers where they are by making the grocery shopping experience even more convenient.”

Harris Teeter joins a growing list of retailers partnering with third-party delivery services to provide same-day service in this highly competitive market.

And the competition is only heating up as UberRush, Google Express and Amazon Prime Now all ramp up service offerings and partnerships. Instacart recently announced a partnership with Whole Foods, expanding delivery and making Whole Foods an investor in the business.

For more:
-See this Harris Teeter press release

Related stories:
Delivery.com delivers lunch to WeWork members
Amazon launches crowdsourced delivery Flex
Target to test grocery delivery
Deliv acquires delivery startup WeDeliver
Deliv expands to new cities and malls

2. Sears’ Eddie Lampert buys debt

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Sears Holdings’ (NASDAQ:SHLD) chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert has acquired a portion of a $750 million loan that will help Sears pay down older debt. But the structure of the loan ensures that its backers will be paid off in the event of Sears’ liquidation, according to Reuters.

   Eddie Lampert

Lampert bought the debt through his hedge fund, ESL Investments, and now has a couple hundred million dollars of a new term loan, according to the report. The loan is backed by Sears’ inventory and receivables and pays an interest rate of more than four times that of the average loan made to other retailers.

The information comes from unnamed sources and Lampert declined to provide Reuters with a comment. Sears’ official stance is that it has enough financial resources and liquid assets fund its transformation. The company is focused on growing through its Shop Your Way member program, but continues to close stores and report lower sales year over year.

Sears has also relied on selling its assets, including real estate and other businesses. Sears Auto Centers could be the next such asset spun off to fund this transformation.

For more:
-See this Reuters article

Related stories:
Sears’ new exec to help manage transformation
Sears CEO: Retail is struggling
Sears to accelerate store closings
Sears to shutter some Kmart stores
Sears’ sales plunge 20%

3. EBay optimizes for 5 stages of shopping

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | By Laura Heller

EBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) has rolled out new enhancements to its technology platform to provide shoppers with better search returns and make it easier for shoppers to discover and compare products.

The changes are based on an examination of shopper behaviors that eBay breaks down into the five stages of shopping.

“When looking at shopping behaviors, we often find that providing too many options can be overwhelming for some people,” said Jason Fletchall, eBay’s product manager for shopping experience. “In our research, we’ve found that there are five stages in the shopping journey: want, discover, compare, decide and buy. Our goal is to help shoppers quickly make sense of the options available to them, and help them easily compare options so they can decide with confidence.”

So eBay made improvements to its Product Related Pages (PRP) and Search Results Pages (SRP). It leveraged machine-assisted learning to reorder the items listed on category pages during the search and discovery process and on the SRP pages as shoppers begin to comparison shop.

The site provides a “top pick” and offers more options to better show the breadth of inventory, according to the company.

“I see these enhancements giving our shoppers a much easier time finding the best values for them,” said Fletchall. “Through simple browsing, shoppers will naturally land on these pages which help them narrow down which items they want to view.”

EBay celebrated its 20th anniversary in September and refocused its digital presence by spinning off PayPal, streamlining mobile offerings and testing new delivery and membership programs.

For more:
-See this eBay announcement

Related stories:
EBay launches shipping membership program
EBay shuts down 3 apps, delivery service
EBay turns 20 with new app
EBay offers valet service for high-end apparel
EBay expanding local delivery test

4. Instacart expansion keeps rolling along

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Instacart is expanding in Southern California, adding Orange County to its growing list of service areas.

Shoppers can now order from Whole Foods Market, Gelson’s Market, Stater Bros. Markets, Ralphs, Smart & Final, Costco (no membership required), Petco and H Mart. Delivery is promised within one hour.

The Los Angeles market grew by 350 percent in 2015, making Orange County a natural next step, according to Instacart.

“We’ve received thousands of customer requests from Orange County residents to bring Instacart to their community, along with incredible interest from retail partners here,” said Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO of Instacart. “We are passionate about saving our customers time and money, which is why we partner with local and national retailers to bring our customers groceries from their favorite stores wherever, and whenever they want them. We couldn’t be more excited to launch in Orange County.”

Instacart’s initial delivery area in Orange County covers Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Corona del Mar and much of Irvine.

Instacart is aggressively expanding to new markets and with new partners. It recently announced a partnership with Whole Foods to be its exclusive delivery partner. The supermarket company is also investing in Instacart, according to terms of the agreement.

California is a hot market for grocery expansion. Aldi is prepping for its Southern California entry and Whole Foods will open its first 365 Market in Los Angeles this year.

For more:
-See this Instacart announcement

Related stories:
Instacart taps vendors to offset costs
Whole Foods expands with Instacart
Whole Foods invests in Instacart
Instacart, AllRecipes partner for ingredient delivery
Instacart adds same-day service to D.C. market

5. Hy-Vee opens training and fulfillment center

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Hy-Vee is about to transform a shuttered retail store into a training facility and fulfillment center to support the grocer’s growing online operations.

The 82,000-sq.-ft. facility in near the company’s Des Moines headquarters was purchased for $3.6 million, according to The Des Moines Register. Once remodeled, it will come online in the fall.

The building will house Hy-Vee University to provide training in retail services, management and business leadership. There will also be an advanced masters of retail operations. Additional facilities include a test kitchen and lab, auditorium and collaboration areas.

It’s a chance for Hy-Vee to expand programs currently offered at is corporate campus.

“We want to make sure we’re training our employees on all the latest trends in grocery and in their specific department areas,” Denise Broderick, Hy-Vee VP of education and training, said in a statement. “With this new facility, we can bring in multiple outside experts to one location or use video conferencing technology to virtually connect with them.”

The facility will do double duty to support Hy-Vee’s online sales, relieving the growing burden on stores. Online ordering is available for at all 240 Hy-Vee stores, and shoppers can opt for in-store pick up or home delivery.

For more:
-See this Des Moines Register article

Related stories:
Hy-Vee expands online shopping to all markets
Aldi’s prices cheaper than Walmart’s
Traditional grocery stores rank highest for customer loyalty
Dash’s Markets launches delivery service
Instacart adds same-day service to D.C. market


Also Noted

New drones roll through Walmart country

The University of Arkansas is about to begin testing a terrestrial drone, or robot, from London-based Starship Enterprises that could be used to make deliveries. Story

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Categories: Uncategorized

FBI Opens San Bernardino Shooter’s iPhone; U.S. Drops Demand on Apple

March 28, 2016 Leave a comment

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MARK LENNIHAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
By DEVLIN BARRETT
Updated March 28, 2016 6:29 p.m. ET
153 COMMENTS
WASHINGTON—The Justice Department filed court papers Monday saying it had cracked the iPhone of a San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist, seeking to drop its legal case to force Apple Inc. to help them unlock it.

The move signals a temporary retreat from a high-stakes fight between Washington and Silicon Valley over privacy and security in the digital age.

The filing short-circuits a pending legal showdown over whether the government can force technology companies to write software to aid in criminal investigations, but it is unlikely to avert the long-term conflict between federal agents and technology executives over how secure electronic communications should be, and what firms should have to do to help the government access their customers’ data.

U.S. Says ‘Outside Party’ Could Unlock Terrorist’s iPhone (March 22)

U.S. Prosecutors Again Blast Apple in San Bernardino iPhone Dispute (March 10)
Apple Opposes Judge’s Order to Help Unlock Phone Linked to San Bernardino Attack (Feb. 17)
The iPhone Standoff Debate: Privacy, Security and What’s at Stake (Feb. 17)
The decision by federal officials to drop the case comes a week after prosecutors bowed out of a planned courtroom showdown, telling the magistrate judge in the case that they may have found a new way to access the phone without Apple’s help.

In Monday’s filing, prosecutors revealed the method had in fact worked and Apple’s assistance was no longer necessary.

Justice Department spokeswoman Melanie Newman said the FBI “is currently reviewing the information on the phone, consistent with standard investigatory procedures.”

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She also signaled that while this particular phone is no longer at issue, the broader fight over encryption-protected technology is likely to continue. “It remains a priority for the government to ensure that law enforcement can obtain crucial digital information to protect national security and public safety, either with cooperation from relevant parties, or through the court system when cooperation fails. We will continue to pursue all available options for this mission, including seeking the cooperation of manufacturers and relying upon the creativity of both the public and private sectors,” she said.

​An Apple spokesman didn’t immediately comment.

The dispute between technology companies such as Apple and the federal government has been brewing for more than a year. Firms increasingly have used encryption as a default setting for their products, and they have declined to help law-enforcement agencies open suspect devices in some cases.

That conflict came to a head in December, when investigators recovered the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook after he and his wife opened fire with rifles on a holiday office party in San Bernardino, killing 14 and injuring 22. Investigators couldn’t open the iPhone because of security features that don’t allow more than 10 guesses of an iPhone’s passcode.

The Justice Department eventually got a court order compelling Apple to help them bypass the passcode security features. The company fought the order, setting the stage for a possibly precedent-setting court fight on privacy.

As the two sides geared up for that fight, FBI officials said they had exhausted all possible avenues of getting into the phone before getting the court order against Apple.

In the public and legal debate that followed, the FBI argued the law doesn’t support a company making phones that are “warrant proof”—unable to be opened even with a signed order from a judge. Apple said it was fighting the order because to do what the FBI wanted would create a new security vulnerability for untold millions of iPhone users.

The filing doesn’t indicate what method the FBI used to access the data on the phone, nor does it say what, if any, evidence related to the attacks was found on it. ​

Officials have been tight-lipped about who offered the FBI a solution to the technical challenge, and how. A person familiar with the case said the method wasn’t developed by a government agency, but by a private entity.

The government is still engaged in a broader fight with Apple over what role, if any, the company should play in helping investigators access data on their customers’ phones.

Previous court filings indicated prosecutors were seeking similar orders against Apple involving at least 15 phones seized as part of unrelated criminal investigations around the country.

State and local prosecutors, most notably Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, have also pressed technology companies to help detectives access data on suspects’ phones.

Categories: Uncategorized

License! Global weekly e-news

March 28, 2016 Leave a comment

 

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March 28, 2016
Recent Top Stories in Licensing
Minnie Mouse Inspires Kate Spade
Disney Consumer Products has tapped Kate Spade New York for a range of Minnie Mouse-inspired products. More…
American Girl Builds New Toy Line
American Girl, a subsidiary of Mattel, has expanded into the construction category with its first line of construction toys for girls.More…
Nick Unveils TMNT Toy Line
Nickelodeon has tapped licensees Playmates Toys and Mega Bloks for new toy lines inspired by the upcoming Paramount Pictures filmTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. More…
Krispy Kreme Unveils Cake Mix
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts has partnered with General Mills’ Betty Crocker to create a new cake mix kit that incorporates the doughnut maker’s original glazed flavor. More…
Tycoon Execs Expand Roles
Tycoon Enterprises has appointed Arturo “Choco” Czonstkowsky to the role of senior vice president. More…
Other Top News
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The Latest Mobile Retailer News

March 28, 2016 Leave a comment

 

 

L’Oreal directs traffic to retailers’ e-commerce sites with a new purchasing button in its Makeup Genius app. [Retail, apps]Full Story
Hilton brings an IBM Watson robot to life as a concierge

Hilton’s robot Connie can answer questions guests ask about their stay. [Travel and hospitality]

Exclusive Q&A with Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Steve Ommen

Dr. Ommen is one of Mobile Strategies 360’s Mobile Champions. We caught up with the mobile leader to get the latest on mobile developments at Mayo Clinic.

Mobile inspiration means cash for Wayfair.com

Home décor retailer Wayfair.com says its Idea Boards, which let customers save items for design inspiration, drove 31% of mobile app revenue in January. [Retail, apps]

PayPal’s shares drop after threat of Apple Pay on mobile web

Mobile payment buttons PayPal and Apple Pay will be pitted against each other if Apple Pay expands to mobile browsers. [Payments, technology providers]

Samsung plans to invest in artificial intelligence

Samsung looks to inject life into sales with the addition of artificial intelligence. [Technology providers]

United HealthCare posts healthy mobile site performance

American Airlines continues its descent to the bottom of the 3G index, landing at No. 23. Meanwhile UHc.com’s mobile efforts pay off. Read the full story and see how this week’s rankings played out.

Mobilegeddon: Not Over Yet

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Register Now [Sponsored by SLISystems]

Access to mobile health data helps patients take better care of themselves

Exclusive: Most popular Android travel apps in the U.S.

Marriott checks out connected TVs

From Mobile Insiders

Why all mobile ad publishers need to embrace web-to-app marketing

Despite the massive shift in consumer time being spent in mobile apps, a large part of the marketing and advertising ecosystem is still operating within a framework that was born long before the advent of smartphones and tablets. That needs to change. Read Now

By Brian Klais, Pure Oxygen Labs

COMPLIMENTARY EXECUTIVE REPORT

The Mobile Champions

Hand-selected by the editors of Mobile Strategies 360, The Mobile Champions lead the mobile charge at their respective companies. We spoke with each of these mobile leaders—who hail from a range of industries including healthcare, retail, restaurants, hospitality and education—to hear more about their mobile journeys in their own words.

Download this free 20-page report, compliments of our sponsor OpenMarket

Mobile Leaders ClicksMob and AppGrade Announce Merger

SMI Unveils High Performance Eye Tracking on Samsung Gear VR

NetObjex Partners With GoCharge to Launch Canvass, a Line of Revolutionary Smart Mobile Charging Stations

Kaspersky Lab and WISeKey Launch an Encrypted Vault for mobile

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Bits: Making the Technology of the Future Work Today

March 28, 2016 Leave a comment

 

 

 
 

 

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Monday, March 28, 2016
Daily Report
Making the Technology of the Future Work Today | “I stood alone in an empty room beside a ferocious dinosaur,” writes Brian X. Chen. He isn’t happy about it. Yet.
Mr. Chen is reviewing the first games for Oculus Rift, the virtual reality, or VR, system released by Facebook on Monday. He does so with a certain crabby excitement: It requires a $1,500 computer-and-goggles setup that is something of an eyesore, the rig doesn’t fit, and some of the early games don’t feel as if they need this elaborate production.
In other words, it feels like the early days in most path-breaking technologies. A little-noticed quality of the future is that it arrives consisting mostly of the past. All innovations consist of things already around us, with a few innovations — and people, even video game designers, interact with them using the rules they already know.
It took about 40 years after the invention of the printing press for paper folding to commonly create smaller, cheaper volumes. In the early days of cars, people drove “horseless carriages,” fearful of travel at a ripping 20 miles an hour. The first web pages looked like cluttered magazines. In every case, it took awhile to learn the rules of the new tech, and then embed them into the product.
That seems to be where VR is now, here but not yet at home. Mr. Chen likes what he sees, but is waiting for more content, delivered better, and using features like motion controllers that will show up later this year.
Other things are also on their way, and could eventually make VR as ordinary a part of life as the iPhone (first released to polite bemusement in 2007, without the apps that made it essential.) Facebook’s work in livestreaming and 360-degree cameras are an attempt to build a network that can easily handle VR globally.
As we recently wrote, some of the biggest tech companies are racing to make artificial intelligence part of the ordinary computing platform. This isalready reshaping both the architecture of computing, and the kind of start-ups we’re seeing in Silicon Valley.
If the past is any guide, A.I. will be part of VR, once designers figure out how all this stuff should hang together. But that is all in the future. Which is, in a small way, always showing up in tech.
The Oculus Rift is the first virtual reality product of its kind to reach consumers.

The Oculus Rift Is Here, but Virtual Reality Is Still Rough Around the Edges | The headset from Facebook’s company is pricey, setup is clunky, use is taxing and content could use more inspiration. Still, the technology transports.

Diane Greene of Google said teaching companies how to use A.I. will be a big business.

Silicon Valley Looks to Artificial Intelligence for the Next Big Thing | Tech’s new architecture melds large computing clouds and artificial intelligence to create efficient computing resources and data-based businesses.

Lee Se-dol of South Korea, a champion Go player, on March 15 after losing the final match against Google's artificial intelligence program, AlphaGo, in Seoul.

The Race Is On to Control Artificial Intelligence, and Tech’s Future | Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft are using high salaries and games pitting humans against computers to try to claim the standard on which all companies will build their A.I. technology.

Categories: Uncategorized

Levi’s is working to squeeze wasted water from its clothes.

March 26, 2016 Leave a comment

(BLOGMASTER NOTE: my company, AM4U Inc has a patented method to dye and print active sportswear fabric and apparel using NO water at all, and  anywhere in the world! see our videos:  http://www.youtube.com/user/AM4Uvideos/playlists)

In Its Quest To Decrease Water Use, Levi’s Is Open Sourcing Production Methods
From stonewashed jeans without the “wash” to using more recycled cotton, Levi’s is working to squeeze wasted water from its clothes.

A stonewashed look usually involves a lot of water. But they realized it was possible to get the same result with ozone gas.Levi’s has spent 9 years perfecting techniques for reducing the water in your jeans.Now they’ve decided to make all of those techniques open source.</p><p>If everyone adopts them, they say the industry will save 50 billion liters or water.</p><p>The production and development teams came up with a list of alternative, water-saving ways to make jeans.</p><p>A stonewashed look usually involves a lot of water. But they realized it was possible to get the same result with ozone gas.

01 /05 Levi’s has spent 9 years perfecting techniques for reducing the water in your jeans. 02 /05 Now they’ve decided to make all of those techniques open source. 03 /05 If everyone adopts them, they say the industry will save 50 billion liters or water. 04 /05 The production and development teams came up with a list of alternative, water-saving ways to make jeans. 05 /05 A stonewashed look usually involves a lot of water. But they realized it was possible to get the same result with ozone gas.

When 20 competitors recently descended on Levi’s Eureka Innovation Lab—the test kitchen in San Francisco where Levi Strauss & Co. develops all of its new products—it was the first time that another brand had set foot inside.”Our CEO actually came in and said, ‘You know, we’ve never had you in here, and we don’t expect you to ever be in here again,'” says Michael Kobori, vice president of sustainability for the company. “But we want to share this with you because it’s too important.”

Levi’s has spent the last nine years perfecting techniques for reducing the water used to make a pair of jeans or a denim jacket. Now they’ve decided to make all of those techniques open source. If everyone adopts them, they say the industry will save 50 billion liters or water.

Apparel, it turns out, is a thirsty product.
Apparel, it turns out, is a thirsty product. When Levi’s analyzed a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans in 2007, calculating the environment impact of every step in the life cycle from growing cotton to manufacturing and a consumer doing laundry, water use stuck out. A single pair of jeans had 3,781 liters of “embedded” water.

The company started trying to bring that number down. The production and development teams came up with a list of alternative, water-saving ways to make jeans. A stonewashed look, for example, usually involves a lot of water and detergent. But they realized it was possible to get the same result with ozone gas and only a thimbleful of water.

“To get any particular finish…on a pair of jeans or on a denim trucker jacket, our designers and our developers create a recipe,” he says. “Essentially they realized that by experimenting with these steps, like experimenting with a recipe, you could cut out some steps and still get the same look.”

Five years later, the company says it has saved more than a billion liters of water.
In some cases, they were able to reduce the water used in the textile finishing process by 96%. They called the new line “Water Less,” and brought it to market. Five years later, the company says it has saved more than a billion liters of water.

“Our vendors love it because they save money on it,” says Kobori. “They use less water, they use less energy to heat the water, so they actually save production costs.”
The production team now has 21 different techniques that can product particular colors, or a particular feel, with less water. In the workshop they held with competitors, they handed out the instructions, and brought in a vendor to explain how it worked in the factory.

At the end of 2015, 28% of Levi’s products were made using Water Less techniques. By 2020, the goal is 80%. Now, every new product developed in the innovation lab uses the new techniques. The company is just working on the R&D to change some older products. “We continue to learn more every year, every season,” Kobori says.

Almost a quarter of the water used in the lifecycle of a pair of jeans comes after the jeans are made, when you’re washing them in the laundry. So Levi’s has also been trying to influence consumers, changing the care tag to say “wash less, wash cold, line dry, donate when no longer needed.”

Wash less, wash cold, line dry, donate when no longer needed.
“You don’t need to wash every time you wear your jeans,” Kobori says. “In fact, if you wait and wash only after every 10 wearings, you can save 50% of the water that you use as a consumer to wash your jeans.”

The company also buys cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative, a program that works with cotton farmers to teach them how to use less water and less pesticide. In Pakistan, a country that struggles with drought, farmers that are part of the initiative use up to 18% less water. They also learn to increase yields; in some cases, the farmers make 45% more than they did before.
By 2020, Levi’s will buy 100% “sustainable cotton,” which they define as cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative or recycled cotton. Recycled cotton is the next challenge—recycling the fibers means they lose strength, but the company is developing ways to increase the percentage of recycled cotton it can include. If the cotton is recycled, it can massively reduce the amount of water needed to produce it.

Obviously people like it, because it’s cool to have these old worn-out Levis.
They’re also trying to build a closed loop: When you’re done with your jeans, you can now drop them off for recycling at a Levi’s store. Some of those jeans may go straight back to other consumers.

“We’ve actually started taking some of those Levis and repurposing them, embellishing them a little bit, and actually reselling them as vintage Levi’s,” says Kobori. “Obviously people like it, because it’s cool to have these old worn-out Levis. But from a sustainability standpoint, it’s also great, because we continue to extend the life of the product. In this world that we’re in of fast fashion, we’re actually the ultimate slow fashion brand.”

And, of course, they’re hoping others will follow. “This whole issue of water use in apparel is big,” he says. “And if we can do something, obviously we can have even greater impact if we get others involved.”

All Images: courtesy Levi’s

Categories: Uncategorized

How to Live Without Windows 10

March 25, 2016 Leave a comment

A. If your current computer hardware does not meet the system requirements for Windows 10, you have at least a couple of options to consider if purchasing a new computer is out of the question. For one, you can just keep on using your current system until the software becomes too outdated to work with the evolving standards.

Keep in mind that in addition to potentially slow and unreliable performance from the PC, you will probably have to work harder to keep your system up-to-date against emerging threats with third-party software security.Microsoft will stop its extended support for Windows Vista on April 11, 2017, and for Windows 7 on Jan. 14, 2020. (If the reason your computer cannot upgrade is because you are still on Windows Vista, you may be able to find a legitimate copy of Windows 7 from a software reseller to upgrade the machine enough to qualify for Microsoft’s free Windows 10 update, but confirm ahead of time that your PC hardware meets the Windows 10 requirements.)

If you have time, patience and flexibility, another option would be to switch to the Linux operating system, which can give you a few more years on older hardware. Linux is available in many different versions or “distributions,” many of which often have lighter system requirements than Windows 10; Ubuntu and Linux Mint are two of the distributions that are friendlier to new users, especially if you mainly use the computer for web browsing, email, word processing and casual gaming.

Linux has become much easier to use over the years and can give your computer a fresh modern operating system. The system can easily handle email, web browsing and opening files in standard formats like .mp3, .jpg, .txt and .rtf. Unless you need specific Windows-only applications, check the online Linux software repositories for alternative programs that meet your needs if the Linux distribution you choose does not already include them. (Some Windows software can run on Linux through a program called WINE, but read up on it before you jump in.)

Categories: Uncategorized

Here Are the Biggest Threats to the Global Supply Chain in 2016

March 25, 2016 Leave a comment

 

NEWS
Under Armour Unveils Fresh Styles for Fall/Winter 2016
Nike Q3 Profit and Revenue Up
H&M Expands Partnership With WWF
Calvin Klein Underwear Sales Boost PVH Q4 Profit
East Coast Ports Not Prepared for Panama Canal Expansion

The Panama Canal expansion is expected to be open this June, but one container lessor has said U.S. East Coast ports are not ready to handle more business.

THE SOURCE The News You Need to Know Today
This Study Shows Why Retailers Should Ramp Up Their Email Game for Millennials
Nordstrom Names Kumar Srinivasan Chief Technology Officer
Cabela’s Hunts for Potential Buyer in Bass Pro Shops
Amazon Says There’s No Gender or Ethnic Pay Gap in Its Ranks
U.K. Retail Sales Fall as Cold Weather Curbs Clothing Demand
New Technology and Construction Lead Cotton to the Great Outdoors

Cotton is not usually the first fabric that comes to mind in the outdoors market, but new treatments and technologies have the industry revisiting the natural fiber.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
NRF Urges Congress to Reject Consumption Tax
Clean Clothes Campaign Says New Fairtrade Standard Will Not Protect Textile Workers
Analyst Says Teen and Tween Retailer Failures to Persist
This Cotton Uses Light to Clean Itself
Lenzing Earnings Jump 20% in 2015
House of Fraser Creates Sustainability Role
US Labor Department Report Raises Concerns About Peru’s Textile and Apparel Industries
Categories: Uncategorized

GOOGLE’s Ground Shaking Fabric Technology

March 23, 2016 Leave a comment

 

Project Jacquard

Background video

Technology woven in.

Play film

Introducing Project Jacquard

Spinning the yarn image 1

Project Jacquard makes it possible to weave touch and gesture interactivity into any textile using standard, industrial looms.

Everyday objects such as clothes and furniture can be transformed into interactive surfaces.

Spinning conductive yarns

This is possible thanks to new conductive yarns, created in collaboration with our industrial partners.

Jacquard yarn structures combine thin, metallic alloys with natural and synthetic yarns like cotton, polyester, or silk, making the yarn strong enough to be woven on any industrial loom.

Jacquard yarns are indistinguishable from the traditional yarns that are used to produce fabrics today.

Spinning the yarn image 2

Weaving interactive textiles

Weaving interactive textiles image 2

Using conductive yarns, bespoke touch and gesture-sensitive areas can be woven at precise locations, anywhere on the textile.

Alternatively, sensor grids can be woven throughout the textile, creating large, interactive surfaces.

Embedding electronics

The complementary components are engineered to be as discreet as possible. We developed innovative techniques to attach the conductive yarns to connectors and tiny circuits, no larger than the button on a jacket. These miniaturized electronics capture touch interactions, and various gestures can be inferred using machine-learning algorithms.

Captured touch and gesture data is wirelessly transmitted to mobile phones or other devices to control a wide range of functions, connecting the user to online services, apps, or phone features.

LEDs, haptics, and other embedded outputs provide feedback to the user, seamlessly connecting them to the digital world.

Embedding electronics image 1

Embedding electronics image 2

Producing at scale

Producing at scale image 1

Producing at scale image 2

Jacquard components are cost-efficient to produce, and the yarns and fabrics can be manufactured with standard equipment used in mills around the world.

One loom can generate as many different textile designs as there are people on the planet. Now that same loom can also weave in interactivity.

Making connected clothing

Connected clothes offer new possibilities for interacting with services, devices, and environments. These interactions can be reconfigured at any time.

Jacquard is a blank canvas for the fashion industry. Designers can use it as they would any fabric, adding new layers of functionality to their designs, without having to learn about electronics.

Developers will be able to connect existing apps and services to Jacquard-enabled clothes and create new features specifically for the platform.

We are also developing custom connectors, electronic components, communication protocols, and an ecosystem of simple applications and cloud services.

Making clothes intelligent image 1

Making clothes intelligent image 2

Project Jacquard will allow designers and developers to build connected, touch-sensitive textiles into their own products.

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For Apple, Potential Flaw May Be a Wake-Up Call |

March 23, 2016 Leave a comment
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
For the latest updates, go to nytimes.com/bits »
Daily Report
 Timothy D. Cook has found himself in a strange position. It looks like someone knows about an important flaw in Apple’s flagship product, and won’t tell its chief executive what it is.
That could be because Apple doesn’t pay outside hackers who find exploitable flaws in Apple software. Paying so-called “bug hunters” has become the norm at many tech companies, and the United States government does it too.
In fact, that is probably how it attracted a third party that claims to have a method for cracking the encryption on an iPhone. The government was getting ready to take Apple to court to make Apple decrypt the phone used by the San Bernardino gunman, but late on Monday the Justice Department said an outside party had demonstrated a way to get around Apple’s protections.
That announcement appears to have at least stalled what many saw as a seminal case on privacy, encryption and the rights of the state in the age of computer communications.
And it may serve as an wake-up call to Apple about how it safeguards its products.
As Nicole Perlroth writes, Google has paid over $6 million to outside hackers who have alerted it to software bugs in its products that could be exploited by malicious outsiders. Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter, among others, also have such programs. Unique among the giants, Apple appears to stand alone, claiming it sees no benefit in paying people to point out your flaws.
One reason may be Apple’s iconic reputation for making a safer, better-built computer. Indeed, for many years Apple computers had far fewer attacks than machines running Microsoft Windows, but experts said this had as much to do with the relative attraction of trying to find flaws in Windows, which had much more of the market. If you did find a flaw, there were more computers to exploit.
Now that Apple has a huge market presence, a robust underground market in selling knowledge of flaws in Apple software has sprung up. Apparently, flaws in the Safari browser are worth $100,000, and knowledge of iPhone issues can command 10 times as much.
That may become a new market that Mr. Cook will want to attack, dominate — and shut down.
Security flaws in Apple devices are prized by hackers.

Apple Policy on Bugs May Explain Why Hackers Would Help F.B.I. | Apple does not pay hackers to find and report bugs, which may explain why a third party has offered to help the government break into an iPhone.

Categories: Uncategorized

FBI thinks it can now HACK Iphones

March 22, 2016 Leave a comment

LA Times.png

FBI says it might be able to unlock San21/1016 Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone without Apple’s help
Apple vs. U.S.
A scene at a New York City Apple store. The U.S. said it might have a way to unlock the phone of one of the assailants in December’s terror attack in San Bernardino without the tech giant’s help. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images)
Joel Rubin and Paresh DaveContact Reporters
The U.S. government made a dramatic about-face Monday, announcing it may not need Apple’s help unlocking an iPhone belonging to an assailant in last year’s San Bernardino terror attack, bringing an abrupt halt — and possibly an end — to its high-stakes legal showdown with the technology giant.

Justice Department officials said an outside party came forward Sunday and showed investigators a way to circumvent the iPhone security features that had previously flummoxed the FBI’s computer experts.
With the 11th-hour announcement Monday afternoon, federal prosecutors sought, and quickly received, an indefinite postponement to a court hearing that had been scheduled for Tuesday. Prosecutors had planned to use the hearing to make their case for why a judge should force Apple to cooperate in hacking into the phone.Five theories why the FBI postponed a major hearing in case against Apple

In a court filing, and on a conference call with reporters, justice officials did not provide details about who had approached them or the technique that was suggested for breaking into the phone. They said, however, they were “cautiously optimistic” the idea would succeed.

“If the method is viable,” prosecutors wrote, “it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple.”

Five theories why the FBI postponed a major hearing in case against Apple
Five theories why the FBI postponed a major hearing in case against Apple
The sudden possibility that the government would no longer need Apple’s cooperation marked a jarring turn of events after weeks of rising acrimony between the two sides. Apple had steadfastly refused demands by Justice officials that it create a new computer program that, when uploaded onto the killer’s iPhone, would have provided FBI agents a way around the security barriers and allowed them to hack into the device. Federal officials insisted they had exhausted all other possible ways into the phone.

The case quickly took on significance far beyond the San Bernardino attack, becoming a major test in a broader legal dispute over the lengths technology companies must go in assisting law enforcement officials in criminal investigations.

Though Monday’s announcement offered Apple at least a temporary reprieve in what had become a risky and possibly damaging legal face-off with the U.S. government, it presented the world’s most valuable company with another troubling scenario: That some unknown group has devised a way to break into iPhones despite the company’s efforts to protect customers’ privacy with new encryption and security buffers.

In a call with reporters, Apple attorneys underscored the bind the company finds itself in. If the government does drop its demand for help, the firm will probably remain in the dark on what prosecutors learned and who taught it to them.

The attorneys, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified, said Apple would ask the government to share what vulnerability it had recently discovered as a result of Sunday’s new information. They stressed that they remained uncertain whether there is in fact a way to bypass the security measures.

How the iPhone’s security measures work
How the iPhone’s security measures work
The government’s announcement, the lawyers said, highlights the fears that the tech giant has repeatedly expressed during its legal fight with the government: that the company must contend with constant attempts by outside parties to crack Apple’s security measures.

At a product launch Monday, Chief Executive Tim Cook insisted the company had a responsibility to protect information on people’s iPhones and other Apple products from intrusion because the devices have become an “extension of ourselves.”

“We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have over our data and our privacy,” Cook said. “We didn’t expect … to be at odds with our government. But we believe we have a responsibility to protect your data, your privacy. We owe it to our customers.”

If the government does drop its demands for Apple’s assistance in this case, the issue is almost certain to be raised in other cases as encryption and security measures continue to make it difficult for investigators to access information on smartphones and other devices.

Tim Cook jumps right into discussing Apple-FBI iPhone encryption fight
Tim Cook jumps right into discussing Apple-FBI iPhone encryption fight
In agreeing to pause the court proceedings, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym instructed prosecutors to provide an update by April 5 on whether the newly discovered procedure does, in fact, provide a way into the phone.

The fight over the iPhone arose after the Dec. 2 attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left 14 dead and many wounded. Justice officials have concluded the assault by Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife was an act of terrorism.

When the couple were killed in a shootout with police, investigators found an iPhone 5C that Farook was issued for his job as a county health inspector. Although FBI agents managed to learn much about Farook and his wife, they wanted to access the phone in hopes it would help answer outstanding questions, such as whether the killers had accomplices.

Concerned that Farook probably had enabled a security feature on the phone that makes it inoperable after 10 failed attempts to enter a secret four-digit security code, agents approached Apple for assistance in getting into the device. Until the correct security code is entered, Apple’s encryption software keeps the contents of the phone scrambled.

Apple’s fight with the FBI
Apple’s fight with the FBI
FBI agents wanted Apple engineers to devise a new operating system that would bypass the 10-attempt limit on the security code and other security measures built into the phone. With this done, agents then planned to use a computer program to churn through the 10,000 possible pass codes until they hit upon the right one.

After Apple refused, prosecutors for U.S. Atty. Eileen Decker asked Pym to force Apple’s hand. The judge granted their request but said a final decision would come after the two sides made their case in legal filings and at the hearing.

The legal battle focused largely on an obscure centuries-old law that prosecutors said gave them the legal foundation to demand Apple’s cooperation. The high-powered legal team assembled by Apple disagreed, saying the government’s attempt to use the law was a dangerous overreach of its authority.

But amid all the legal wrangling, the two sides saw eye-to-eye on a basic idea: The government insisted repeatedly that only Apple’s engineers could fashion a way past the security barriers they themselves had built. Apple did not disagree, but it said that being forced to create the work-around amounted to building a master key that, if stolen by hackers, would jeopardize the privacy of all its customers.

Monday’s claim by prosecutors upended that understanding, suddenly injecting into the debate the idea that the master key has already been devised by someone other than Apple.

Jonathan Zdziarski, a leading expert on iPhone security, said the information given to federal authorities is likely to have focused on ways to copy a portion of the phone’s memory that keeps track of how many attempts have been made to enter an iPhone’s pass code. By repeatedly restoring the original copy of those data after nine guesses, the agency potentially could avoid triggering the feature that makes the phone’s contents inaccessible after 10 failed tries.

Zdziarski did not think the announcement of a possible way to hack into the device would hurt Apple and its reputation for strong security. Farook’s phone, he noted, was an older device that didn’t include the most up-to-date security.
“We do know that whatever the solution is, [the] FBI believes they can effectively test it within a two-week period, so it’s likely nothing that is incredibly experimental,” Zdziarski said of the FBI’s potential solution.

joel.rubin@latimes.com; Twitter:@joelrubin

paresh.dave@latimes.com; Twitter: @peard33

Times staff writer David Pierson contributed to this report.
Apple vs. U.S.
A scene at a New York City Apple store. The U.S. said it might have a way to unlock the phone of one of the assailants in December’s terror attack in San Bernardino without the tech giant’s help. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images)
Joel Rubin and Paresh DaveContact Reporters
The U.S. government made a dramatic about-face Monday, announcing it may not need Apple’s help unlocking an iPhone belonging to an assailant in last year’s San Bernardino terror attack, bringing an abrupt halt — and possibly an end — to its high-stakes legal showdown with the technology giant.

Justice Department officials said an outside party came forward Sunday and showed investigators a way to circumvent the iPhone security features that had previously flummoxed the FBI’s computer experts.
With the 11th-hour announcement Monday afternoon, federal prosecutors sought, and quickly received, an indefinite postponement to a court hearing that had been scheduled for Tuesday. Prosecutors had planned to use the hearing to make their case for why a judge should force Apple to cooperate in hacking into the phone.

In a court filing, and on a conference call with reporters, justice officials did not provide details about who had approached them or the technique that was suggested for breaking into the phone. They said, however, they were “cautiously optimistic” the idea would succeed.

“If the method is viable,” prosecutors wrote, “it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple.”

Five theories why the FBI postponed a major hearing in case against Apple
Five theories why the FBI postponed a major hearing in case against Apple
The sudden possibility that the government would no longer need Apple’s cooperation marked a jarring turn of events after weeks of rising acrimony between the two sides. Apple had steadfastly refused demands by Justice officials that it create a new computer program that, when uploaded onto the killer’s iPhone, would have provided FBI agents a way around the security barriers and allowed them to hack into the device. Federal officials insisted they had exhausted all other possible ways into the phone.

The case quickly took on significance far beyond the San Bernardino attack, becoming a major test in a broader legal dispute over the lengths technology companies must go in assisting law enforcement officials in criminal investigations.

Though Monday’s announcement offered Apple at least a temporary reprieve in what had become a risky and possibly damaging legal face-off with the U.S. government, it presented the world’s most valuable company with another troubling scenario: That some unknown group has devised a way to break into iPhones despite the company’s efforts to protect customers’ privacy with new encryption and security buffers.

In a call with reporters, Apple attorneys underscored the bind the company finds itself in. If the government does drop its demand for help, the firm will probably remain in the dark on what prosecutors learned and who taught it to them.

The attorneys, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified, said Apple would ask the government to share what vulnerability it had recently discovered as a result of Sunday’s new information. They stressed that they remained uncertain whether there is in fact a way to bypass the security measures.

How the iPhone’s security measures work
How the iPhone’s security measures work
The government’s announcement, the lawyers said, highlights the fears that the tech giant has repeatedly expressed during its legal fight with the government: that the company must contend with constant attempts by outside parties to crack Apple’s security measures.

At a product launch Monday, Chief Executive Tim Cook insisted the company had a responsibility to protect information on people’s iPhones and other Apple products from intrusion because the devices have become an “extension of ourselves.”

“We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have over our data and our privacy,” Cook said. “We didn’t expect … to be at odds with our government. But we believe we have a responsibility to protect your data, your privacy. We owe it to our customers.”

If the government does drop its demands for Apple’s assistance in this case, the issue is almost certain to be raised in other cases as encryption and security measures continue to make it difficult for investigators to access information on smartphones and other devices.

Tim Cook jumps right into discussing Apple-FBI iPhone encryption fight
Tim Cook jumps right into discussing Apple-FBI iPhone encryption fight
In agreeing to pause the court proceedings, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym instructed prosecutors to provide an update by April 5 on whether the newly discovered procedure does, in fact, provide a way into the phone.

The fight over the iPhone arose after the Dec. 2 attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left 14 dead and many wounded. Justice officials have concluded the assault by Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife was an act of terrorism.

When the couple were killed in a shootout with police, investigators found an iPhone 5C that Farook was issued for his job as a county health inspector. Although FBI agents managed to learn much about Farook and his wife, they wanted to access the phone in hopes it would help answer outstanding questions, such as whether the killers had accomplices.

Concerned that Farook probably had enabled a security feature on the phone that makes it inoperable after 10 failed attempts to enter a secret four-digit security code, agents approached Apple for assistance in getting into the device. Until the correct security code is entered, Apple’s encryption software keeps the contents of the phone scrambled.

Apple’s fight with the FBI
Apple’s fight with the FBI
FBI agents wanted Apple engineers to devise a new operating system that would bypass the 10-attempt limit on the security code and other security measures built into the phone. With this done, agents then planned to use a computer program to churn through the 10,000 possible pass codes until they hit upon the right one.

After Apple refused, prosecutors for U.S. Atty. Eileen Decker asked Pym to force Apple’s hand. The judge granted their request but said a final decision would come after the two sides made their case in legal filings and at the hearing.

The legal battle focused largely on an obscure centuries-old law that prosecutors said gave them the legal foundation to demand Apple’s cooperation. The high-powered legal team assembled by Apple disagreed, saying the government’s attempt to use the law was a dangerous overreach of its authority.

But amid all the legal wrangling, the two sides saw eye-to-eye on a basic idea: The government insisted repeatedly that only Apple’s engineers could fashion a way past the security barriers they themselves had built. Apple did not disagree, but it said that being forced to create the work-around amounted to building a master key that, if stolen by hackers, would jeopardize the privacy of all its customers.

Monday’s claim by prosecutors upended that understanding, suddenly injecting into the debate the idea that the master key has already been devised by someone other than Apple.

Jonathan Zdziarski, a leading expert on iPhone security, said the information given to federal authorities is likely to have focused on ways to copy a portion of the phone’s memory that keeps track of how many attempts have been made to enter an iPhone’s pass code. By repeatedly restoring the original copy of those data after nine guesses, the agency potentially could avoid triggering the feature that makes the phone’s contents inaccessible after 10 failed tries.

Zdziarski did not think the announcement of a possible way to hack into the device would hurt Apple and its reputation for strong security. Farook’s phone, he noted, was an older device that didn’t include the most up-to-date security.
“We do know that whatever the solution is, [the] FBI believes they can effectively test it within a two-week period, so it’s likely nothing that is incredibly experimental,” Zdziarski said of the FBI’s potential solution.

joel.rubin@latimes.com; Twitter:@joelrubin

paresh.dave@latimes.com; Twitter: @peard33

Times staff writer David Pierson contributed to this report.

Categories: Uncategorized

Yes, he tried: what will Barack Obama’s legacy be?

March 19, 2016 Leave a comment

Barack Obama waving goodbye

Barack Obama
unnamed.jpg
Obama was elected on a tidal wave of optimism, promising to heal America’s wounds. Did he deliver? Gary Younge looks back on an electrifying victory night in 2008 – and what came next…

Gary Younge
Saturday 19 March 2016
When Ohio fell on election night 2008, the President’s Lounge, a bar on the overwhelmingly black south side of Chicago, erupted in jubilation. Corks popped, strangers hugged, police patrolling the streets yelled the freshly elected president’s name from their loudhailers: “Obama!”

As I scanned the faces at the bar, one woman looked at me, beaming, raised her margarita and shouted: “My man’s in Afghanistan. He’s coming home!” Barack Obama had never said anything about ending the war in Afghanistan. Indeed, he had pledged to ramp up the US military effort there. But she had not misunderstood him; she had simply projected her hopes on to him and mistaken them for fact.

Obama had that kind of effect on people, back then. Often they weren’t listening too closely to what he was saying, because they loved the way he was saying it. Measured, eloquent, informed; here was a politician who used full sentences with verbs. He was not just standing to be the successor to George W Bush. He was the anti-Bush.

And they loved the way Obama looked when he said it: tall, handsome, black – an understated, stylish presence from an underrepresented, marginalised demographic. The notion that this man might lead the country, just three years after Hurricane Katrina, left many staring in awe when they might have been listening with intent. Details be damned: this man could be president.

Earlier on election day, I saw a grown man cry as he came out of the polling station. “We’ve had attempts at black presidents before,” Howard Davis, an African American, told me, “but they’ve never got this far. Deep in my heart, it’s an emotional thing. I’m really excited about it.” His voice cracked, and he excused himself to dry his eyes.

I first heard about Barack Obama from my late mother-in-law, Janet Mack, who lived in Chicago and joined his campaign for the Senate in 2003. That was the year I moved to the US as a correspondent for the Guardian, first in New York and later in Chicago, before moving back to London last August.

Janet had seen Obama on local television a few times and thought he spoke a lot of sense. She attended the demonstration where he spoke, as a state senator, against the invasion of Iraq. When he first ran, she feared he would be assassinated, but became accustomed to him as a primetime fixture. “It’s like living in California and the earthquakes,” she told me. “You just can’t worry about them all the time.”

We went to the south side of Chicago together to hear Obama’s nomination speech in 2008, watching with a couple of hundred others on a big screen at the Regal Theatre. People wept and punched the air. On the way home, Janet, a black woman raised in the Jim Crow south, punched my arm and laughed. Usually, she chatted a lot. But for most of the 30-minute ride she kept saying, to nobody in particular, “I just can’t believe it.”

In many ways Obama’s campaign for the presidency was unremarkable. He had voted with Hillary Clinton in the Senate 90% of the time. He stood on a centrist-Democratic platform, promising healthcare reform and moderate wealth redistribution – effectively the same programme that mainstream Democrats had stood on for a generation. But his rise was meteoric. His story was so compelling, his rhetoric so soaring, his base so passionate – and his victory, when it came, so improbable – that reality was always going to be a buzz kill.

Obama had long been aware that voters saw what they wanted in him. “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views,” he wrote in The Audacity Of Hope in 2006. “As such, I am bound to disappoint some, if not all, of them.” But he was hardly blameless. He claimed to stand in the tradition of the suffragettes, the civil rights movement and the union organisers, evoking their speeches and positioning himself as a transformational figure. On the final primary night in June 2008, he literally promised the Earth to a crowd in St Paul, Minnesota: “We will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment… when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

There was a lot of healing to do. When Obama came to power, the US had lost one war in the Gulf and was losing another in Afghanistan. In a poll of 19 countries, two thirds had a negative view of America. Americans didn’t have a much better view of themselves. The banking crisis had just sent the economy into freefall. Poverty was rising, share prices were nosediving, and just 13% of the population thought the country was moving in the right direction.

This was the America Obama inherited when he strolled, victorious, on to the stage in Chicago’s Grant Park with his family on election night in 2008 – a vision in black before a nation still in shock.

 

In Marshalltown, Iowa (population 27,800), on 26 January this year, a crowd waits in subzero temperatures for several hours to see Donald Trump while the hawkers enjoy a brisk trade. There are “Make America Great Again” hats (made in China), badges stating “Bomb The Shit Out Of Isis” and “Hillary For Prison 2016”. One man is carrying a poster with a picture of Hitler holding up a healthcare bill and saying, “You’ve gone too far, Obama!” Across the road are protesters, most of them Hispanic. Over the previous six months, Trump has branded Mexicans rapists, promised to exclude all Muslims from the country and insulted the Chinese, disabled people, women and Jews.

Inside, Sheriff Joe Arpaio from Arizona, an anti-immigrant zealot who still insists that Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery, introduces Trump, who emerges from behind a curtain as though walking out on to a game show. “Heeeeere’s Donald!” As the crowd grows into the hundreds, they open up the bleachers on the upper level for the overflow. For the most part, Trump blathers like a drunk uncle at a barbecue. He calls Glenn Beck, who has endorsed his principal rival Ted Cruz, a “nut job”. He brags about his wall to keep out the Mexicans. “It’s going to be a big wall,” he says. “A big beautiful wall. You’re gonna love this wall.” Afterwards, Brian Stevens, 37, tells me he thought Trump was impressive. “I don’t agree with everything he says. But I think he’ll make a difference – he has to. Someone’s got to stand up for America. We need him.”
Obama rocketed to national fame on the promise that there should be no more days like these. At the 2004 Democratic party convention, he described the nation’s partisan divide as though it had been imposed from the outside, by cynical operatives and a simplistic media: “spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes”. Back then, just over a year into the Iraq war, it looked as if America couldn’t get much more polarised. But it did.

When Obama stood in 2008, one of the central pledges of his campaign was that he would rise above the fray in a spirit of bipartisan cooperation. That’s not how it worked out. In 2010, the then Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, said the Republican party’s “top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term”. Republican congressmen, who refused to cooperate even with their own leadership, repeatedly threatened to bring the US to the brink of default, or simply shut the government down – unless Obama backed down from promises he’d made, or laws that had already been passed. A few years ago, as the Republican-led House of Representatives engineered a brief government shutdown, Congressman Marlin Stutzman illustrated how petulant Obama’s opponents had become: “We have to get something out of this,” he said. “And I don’t know what that even is.”

Regardless of what he said or did, President Obama was always going to be a lightning rod for political polarisation. Some argued that this was because the right could not come to terms with a black president, and there’s probably something to that. At times, when the Republicans refused to return his calls or refer to him as president, or when someone shouted “Liar!” during a presidential address, they appeared to refuse to recognise Obama as the legitimate holder of office.

I supported Obama in 2008 because he opposed the war in Iraq, when it could have damaged his career
But the issues went way beyond race: in all sorts of ways, he embodied the anxieties of a section of white America. He is the son of a Kenyan immigrant at a moment when America is struggling to come to terms with the impact of immigration and foreign trade. He is the son of a non-observant Muslim who came to power as the country was losing wars in predominantly Muslim lands. He is the product of a mixed-race relationship at a time when one of the fastest-growing racial groups in the nation is those who identify as “more than one race”. He is a non-white president who ends his term at a time when the majority of children aged five and under in America are not white.

Demographically and geopolitically, being a white American no longer means what it used to; Obama became a proxy for those who could not accept that decline, and who understood his very presence as both a threat and a humiliation. Trump, in many ways, is their response.

In his final state of the union address, in January, Obama conceded that he had not come close to achieving his dream of a more consensual political culture. “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency,” he said, “that the rancour and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. I have no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.” With nine months left in an election year, it is difficult to see what would break the logjam.

By the end of Obama’s first term in 2012, there was a general sense that things hadn’t moved fast enough, that he had caved in to his opponents too easily. It was as though he negotiated with himself before reaching across the aisle, only to have his hand slapped away in disdain anyway. Having been elected on a mantle of hope, he seemed both aloof and adrift. Having moved people with his rhetoric, he was now failing to connect.

Barack and Michelle Obama are greeted by troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in December 2011.

With Michelle at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in December 2011, following his speech marking the end of America’s war in Iraq. Photograph: Pete Souza/The White House

At a televised town hall meeting two years after his election, Obama was confronted by Velma Hart, an African American mother of two, who articulated the disappointments of many. “I’m exhausted,” she told him. “I’m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now.”

A few months later, Hart lost her job as chief financial officer for a veterans’ organisation. By the time I met her, in the summer of 2011, she was re-employed but still far from impressed. “Here’s the thing,” she told me. “I didn’t engage my president to hug and kiss me. But what I did think I’d be able to appreciate is the change he was talking about during the campaign. I want leadership and decisiveness and action that helps this country get better. That’s what I want, because that benefits me, that benefits my circle and that benefits my children.”

“Do you think he’s decisive?” I asked.

“Ummm, sometimes…” she said. Like many, Hart wanted to support Obama, but felt he wasn’t making it easy. “Not always, no,” she added, after a pause.

The notion that strong individuals can bend the world to their will is compelling. It is also deeply flawed. “That’s what we’re taught to believe from an early age,” Susan Aylward, who used to work in an Ohio food co-op, told me. “We’re taught that one man should be able to fix everything. Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Ronald Reagan – history’s told as though it were all down to them. The world is way too complex for that.”

Obama’s second campaign was a far cry from the euphoria of the first. ‘Yes we can’ had curdled into ‘Could be worse’
I first met Susan in 2004, coming out of the opening night of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 in Akron. Back then, she said she intended voting for John Kerry because he wasn’t Bush, but she didn’t love him. Four years later, we had breakfast just a week before Obama was elected and she could barely contain her excitement. She made her two-year-old granddaughter, Sasha, who’s mixed race, sit up with her on election night. “We wanted her to be able to say she saw it that day, even if she didn’t really know what she was seeing.”

But when we caught up in 2012, Susan was processing her disappointment. “It’s not going to change my vote,” she said. “I just wish he could have been better. I don’t even know how, exactly. If you’re going to be president, then I guess you obviously want to be in the history books. So what does he want to be in the history books for? I don’t quite know the answer to that yet.”

When it comes to Obama, people have to own their disappointment. That doesn’t mean it’s not valid, just that it often says as much about them as it does about him. No individual can solve America’s problems. Most radical change in the US, like elsewhere, comes from huge social movements from below. Poor people cannot simply elect a better life for themselves and expect that vested interests won’t resist them at every turn: that’s not how western democracy works.

I supported Obama against Hillary Clinton because he had opposed the war in Iraq at a time when that could have damaged his political career; she had supported it in order to sustain her own. I thought he was the most progressive candidate that could be elected, and while even his agenda was inadequate for the needs of the people I most care about – the poor and the marginalised – it could still make a difference. I got my disappointment in early, to avoid the rush.

Obama, vice-president Joe Biden (left), secretary of state Hillary Clinton and members of the national security team monitor the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 2011

Obama, vice-president Joe Biden (left) and secretary of state Hillary Clinton monitor the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 2011. Photograph: Pete Souza/AP

I appreciated the racially symbolic importance of Obama’s victory, and celebrated it. But I didn’t fetishise it, because I never expected much that was substantial to emerge from it. He leveraged his racial identity for electoral gain, without promising much in return. As a candidate, race was central to his meaning, but absent from his message. When I read the transcript of the nomination speech I saw with my mother-in-law on the south side that night in 2008, I realised he had quoted Martin Luther King but declined to mention him by name, referring to him instead as the “old preacher”. “If a black candidate can’t quote Martin Luther King by name,” I thought, “who can they quote?” I jokingly referred to him as the “incognegro”.

Obama never promised radical change and, given the institutions in which he was embedded, he was never going to be in a position to deliver it. You don’t get to become president of the United States without raising millions from very wealthy people and corporations (or being a billionaire yourself), who will turn against you if you don’t serve their interests. Congress, with which Obama spars, is similarly corrupted by money. Seats in the House of Representatives are openly and brazenly gerrymandered.

This excuses Obama nothing. On any number of fronts, particularly the economy, the banks and civil liberties, he could have done more, or better. He recognised this himself, and in 2011, shortly before his second election, produced a list of issues he felt he’d been holding back on: immigration reform, poverty, the Middle East, Guantánamo Bay and gay marriage.

Obama, vice-president Joe Biden (left), secretary of state Hillary Clinton and members of the national security team monitor the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 2011
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Obama, vice-president Joe Biden (left) and secretary of state Hillary Clinton monitor the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 2011. Photograph: Pete Souza/AP
By 2011, even those closest to Obama could see he was losing not only his base but his raison d’être as an agent of change. “You were seen as someone who would walk through the wall for the middle class,” his senior adviser David Axelrod told him that year. “We need to get back to that.”

Back then, Obama’s prospects looked slim. His campaign second time around was a far cry from the euphoria of the first. The president’s argument boiled down to: “Things were terrible when I came to power, are much better than they would have been were I not in power, and will get worse if I am removed from power.” What started as “Yes we can” had curdled into “Could be worse”.

But Obama has always been lucky in his enemies. The Republican party effectively undermined and humiliated their nominee, Mitt Romney, who then proved a terrible candidate. In 2012, I went to vote with Howard Davis, the man I’d met weeping at a Chicago polling station back in 2008, who voted Obama again. There were no tears this time. In the words of Sade, it’s never as good as the first time.

As Obama comes to the end of his tenure, we are no longer confined to discussing what it means that he is president; we can now talk in definite terms about what Obama did. Indulging the symbolic promise of a moment is one thing; engaging with the substantial record of more than seven years in power is quite another.

Everybody has their list. None is definitive. Obama withdrew US soldiers from Iraq (only to resume bombing later), relaxed relations with Cuba, executed Osama bin Laden, reached a nuclear deal with Iran and vastly improved America’s standing in the world. Twenty million uninsured adults now have health insurance because of Obamacare. Unemployment was 7.8% and rising when he came to power; today, it is 4.9% and falling. He indefinitely deferred the deportation of the parents of children who are either US citizens or legal residents, and expanded that protection to children who entered the country illegally with their parents (the Dream Act). Wind and solar power are set to triple; the automobile industry was rescued. He eventually spoke out forcefully for gun control. He appointed two women to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina. When those on the left question Obama’s progressive bona fides, this is generally the list that is read back by his defenders – as though mimicking John Cleese in Life Of Brian when he asks, “What have the Romans ever done for us?”

The first family returned a sense of playful normality to the White House. They offered Camelot without the castle
There are, of course, other facts to contend with. Obama escalated fighting in Afghanistan and the troops are still there; deported more people than any president in US history; used the 1917 Espionage Act to prosecute more than twice as many whistleblowers as all previous presidents combined; oversaw a 700% increase in drone strikes in Pakistan (not to mention Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere), resulting in between 1,900 and 3,000 deaths, including more than 100 civilians; executed US citizens without trial; saw wealth inequality and income inequality grow as corporate profits rocketed; led his party to some of the heaviest midterm defeats in history. In Syria, he drew a red line in the sand and then claimed he hadn’t; he said he wouldn’t put boots on the ground, and then he did.

The discrepancies between Obama’s campaign promises and his record in office have been most glaring on matters of civil liberties. “This administration puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide,” he said as a candidate on 1 August 2007. “You can’t have 100% security and then 100% privacy and zero inconvenience,” he said on 7 June 2013, during the Edward Snowden affair. “We’re going to have to make some choices.”

And finally, there are the things Obama didn’t do. He didn’t pursue a single intelligence officer over torture; he didn’t pursue a single finance executive for malfeasance in connection with the 2007/8 crash; he didn’t close Guantánamo Bay.

But a legacy is not a ledger. It is both less substantial than a list of things done, and more meaningful. “At some point in Jackie Robinson’s career, the point ceases to be how many hits he got or bases he stole,” Mitch Stewart, who played a leading role in both Obama campaigns, tells me. “As great and important as all these stats were, there was a bigger picture.”

Legacies are about what people feel as well as what they know, about the present as much as the past. Aesthetically, there has always been something retro about Obama’s public profile. The original campaign posters announcing “Hope” and “Change”; the black-and-white video clips in will.i.am’s Yes We Can video. With his family at his side, his brand offered not glamour exactly, but chic. Like John F Kennedy, he projected an image that enough Americans either wanted or needed, or both: a young, good-looking family, a bright future. He offered Camelot without the castle: no ties to the old, all about the future.

Photographs of Obama at the White House suggest both he and Michelle grew into this role quite happily. Whether it was Michelle dancing with kids on the White House lawn or Barack making faces at babies and chasing toddlers around the Oval office, they returned a sense of playful normality to the White House: an unforced conviviality that did not detract from the gravity of office.

“It’s important to remember that he was more recently a normal person than most people at that level,” one veteran member of his team told me. “For the 2000 convention, he couldn’t even get a floor credential. In 2004, he introduced the presidential nominee. In 2008, he was the nominee. It’s tough to see him and Michelle, and not give him that benefit of the doubt. He’s had small kids in the White House. I think people will remember that as a moment and an era.”

Obama sings Amazing Grace at the funeral of state senator Clementa Pinckney, one of nine people killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, 2015

Obama sings Amazing Grace at the funeral of state senator Clementa Pinckney, one of nine people killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, 2015. Photograph: Richard Ellis/EPA/Corbis

When Virginia McLaurin, a 106-year-old African American woman, was granted her lifelong dream to visit the White House earlier this year, the president and his wife danced with her quite unselfconsciously. “Slow down now, don’t go too fast,” Obama joked. As the second term has progressed, they have seemed happy in their skin – and, for many, the novelty that it is black skin has not worn off. “I thought I would never live to get in the White House,” McLaurin said, looking up at her hosts. “I am so happy. A black president, a black wife, and I’m here to celebrate black history.”

 

Legacies are never settled; they are constantly evolving. A few years before he died, almost two thirds of Americans disapproved of Martin Luther King, because of his stance against the Vietnam war and in favour of the redistribution of wealth. Yet within a generation, his birthday was a national holiday; when Americans ranked the most admired public figures of the 20th century in 1999, King came second only to Mother Teresa.

Ronald Reagan is now hailed as a conservative hero, even though he supported amnesty for undocumented migrants and massively inflated the government deficit. During the final year of Bill Clinton’s presidency, most guessed that his legacy would be one of scandal. Instead, he was hailed for presiding over a sustained economic recovery. But as his wife seeks the Democratic nomination, he has had to recant key parts of that legacy – the crime bill, welfare reform, financial deregulation – those elements which have disproportionately impoverished African Americans and enriched the banks.

“History will be a far kinder judge than the current Republican congress,” Stewart tells me. “It will rest on the untold successes that this administration has had. Energy efficiency, carbon efficiency. He reformed the student loan programme, which is going to have an impact on a generation of students. He’s catapulted the US forward in ways that will continue to pay dividends long after his presidency. His legacy will be about these smaller, unsung accomplishments that will have a generational impact.”

Paradoxically, the element of Obama’s legacy for which he will be best remembered – being the first black president – relates to an area that has seen little substantial headway: racial equality. The wealth gap between black and white Americans has grown, as has the unemployment gap and black poverty; black income has stagnated. That’s not to suggest he has done nothing. He has appointed an unprecedented number of black judges, released several thousand nonviolent drug offenders, reduced the disparity in sentencing for crack and powder cocaine. Anything he did that helped the poor, like Obamacare, will disproportionately help African Americans.
Ferguson, Selma and a mood for change

But, broadly speaking, Obama’s racial legacy is symbolic, not substantial. The fact that he could be president challenged how African Americans saw their country. The fact that their lives did not radically improve as a result did not shift their understanding of how America works. When he was contemplating a run for the White House, his wife asked him what he thought he could accomplish if he won. “The day I take the oath of office,” he replied, “the world will look at us differently. And millions of kids across this country will look at themselves differently. That alone is something.”

The imagery did not, in the end, translate quite so neatly. True, when Trayvon Martin was shot dead by George Zimmerman in 2012, Obama was able to say what no other president could have said: “Trayvon Martin could have been my son.” Nonetheless, it is unlikely that Zimmerman looked at Trayvon and thought, “There goes the future president of America.” Thanks to Obama, Americans see racism differently; they do not, however, view black people differently.

Obama will leave office during a period of heightened racial tension over police shootings. “His presidency was supposed to pass into an era of post-racism and colour blindness,” Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Princeton professor and author of From #BlackLivesMatter To Black Liberation, tells me. “Yet it was under his administration that the Black Lives Matter movement erupted. In many ways, it’s the most significant anti-racist movement in the last 40 years, and it happens under the first black president. The eruption of this movement can be interpreted as a disappointment in the limitations of the Barack Obama presidency. And some of those limitations can be explained externally, by the hostility with which he’s been met by the mostly Republican congress. But some of it lies in the limitations of his own policies.”

Over the past couple of years, the #BlackLivesMatter debate has taken place almost without reference to Obama. It suggests that, on one level, his relationship to some of the key issues surrounding black life is almost ornamental. He is the framed poster in the barbershop or the nail salon, the mural on the underpass, the picture in the diner or bodega – an aspiration not to be mistaken for the attrition of daily life. The question as to whether America can elect a black president has been answered; the issue of the sanctity of black life, however, has yet to be settled.

At the Col Ballroom in Davenport, Iowa, on 29 January, it is difficult not to feel nostalgic. Built in 1914 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the chandeliers both illuminate and illustrate the regal atmosphere of an old music hall, while the posters bear witness to the greats who have played there, from Duke Ellington to Jimi Hendrix.

So when the swing band stops playing and Bill Clinton steps on stage to present his wife, Hillary, the sense that you have stepped back in time feels complete. Hillary has become a far more animated candidate since she lost to Obama here eight years ago. Heather Johnson, a precinct captain whose job is to rally support in her area, has been knocking on doors, calling supporters and galvanising the local faithful for months now. “After she lost last time, I decided, if she ran, I’d do everything I could to make sure she didn’t lose again,” she says. “Who else has her experience?”

It’s just a few days before the caucuses and this mostly older crowd is energised. But Hillary still suffers from the same vulnerabilities as in 2008. She is seen as an insider, when the voters want change. She remains dogged by scandal – her emails sent via a private server – and voters find her untrustworthy. She promises progress by increments, rather than transformation. She even tries to make a selling point of the fact that her platform is not exciting. “I’d rather underpromise and overdeliver,” she tells the crowd. She is effectively running for Obama’s third term, asking for the opportunity to continue what he started.

A few days earlier, at Grinnell College, Bernie Sanders offered a younger crowd a future more radical and bold – free healthcare, no tuition fees, a $15-an-hour minimum wage – and a clear departure from a political culture corrupted by money and corporate influence. Sanders has reservations about Obama’s legacy; he recently endorsed a book called Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down. But on the stump he knows there is no mileage in criticising the president.

This crowd likes Obama. His second term has been more sure-footed than his first. Following the Sandy Hook shootings, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 schoolchildren, six adult staff, his mother and himself, Obama finally vowed to challenge the legislative inertia on gun control and has not stopped since. As the Republicans have proven themselves incapable of compromise, Obama has felt more licence to stamp his authority on the political culture. A few months after the midterms, he signed the Dream Act; last November, he vetoed the Keystone Pipeline, from Canada to the Mexican Gulf, because of environmental concerns. While other presidents use the lame duck portion of their tenure to get to work on their presidential libraries, Obama has been tying up loose ends. “He’ll be a blueprint for how you have a second term,” Mitch Stewart thinks. “Every day there is an hourglass mentality.”

Karen Sanchez, a 19-year-old Sanders supporter in Marshalltown, Iowa, tells me she thinks Obama has done a great job. “He did what he could. I think he would have done more, but they kept blocking him.” A Hillary supporter at an event in Adel, Iowa, who did not want to give her name, agreed. “He gave it his best shot,” she said. “I don’t think anyone could have done better when you’re up against people who just want to stonewall you.”

As violence erupts at election rallies, America may appreciate the lack of drama. In Obama, it had an adult in the room
This was the standard response at any Democrat event when I asked how people thought Obama would be remembered: effectively a phantom legacy. Not what he actually achieved, but what he might have achieved if the other side weren’t so unreasonable. As endorsements go, this seemed like faint praise. Like the 1986 World Cup England might have won were it not for Maradona’s hand of God, or the Gore presidency that might have been were it not for hanging chads and the Supreme Court, the case for Obama’s legacy was the subjunctive – what might have been. Yes. We. Tried.

But as the primary season has drawn on, what looked like a partial and qualified stamp of approval has been developing into something more complete and adulatory. Compared with the frontrunners, carnival barkers and showmen, Obama is starting to walk taller and appear smarter than ever.

The day after a recent Republican debate, CNN ran the headline, “Trump Defends Size Of His Penis”, after Trump objected to Marco Rubio’s allusion that, because Trump had small hands, he has a small penis. “Look at these hands; are they small hands?” Trump asked a cheering crowd. “I guarantee you, there’s no problem.”

When the political tone is set this low, when so little is expected of the candidates and the choices are this poor, the fact that Obama tried – and the way that he tried – starts to eclipse the fact that he so often failed. Like a dutiful doctor, he performed triage on a reluctant patient and didn’t give up even when the prospects looked bleak. He did his job.

As his term comes to an end and the fractured, volatile nature of the country’s electoral politics is once again laid bare, Americans may be coming to realise that, in Obama, it had an adult in the room. As violence erupts at election rallies and spills over into the streets, they may come to appreciate the absence of scandal and drama from the White House. As their wages stagnated, industries collapsed, insecurities grew and hopes faded, he tried to get something done. Not much, not enough – but something. It is possible to have serious, moral criticisms of Obama and his legacy, and still appreciate his value, given the alternatives.

In Obama, Americans are losing someone who took both public service and the public seriously; someone who stood for something bigger and more important than himself. This is the end of the line for a leader who believed that facts mattered; that Americans were not fools; that their democracy meant something and that government had a role: that America could be better than this.Barack Obama waving goodbye

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